How to maximise DVD viewing

Although the trend is to watch films via download or streaming services there is still a lot of fun to be had by watching a video.

There are ways to extract every last inch of a DVD viewing benefits. Normally we watch and forget after which the DVD gets shoved in a drawer or on a shelf. Actually, the shelf is a great idea to impress visitors. They get to see what a broad-minded, cosmopolitan soul you are. You can drop a few steers in this direction with the purchase of a couple of eclectic productions you have no intention of watching. Just make sure you have removed the cellophane wrapper, always a giveaway.

In quiet moment mainly whilst ‘match of the day’ – again fills the airways you pop the DVD into the player and off you go. This is where the fun starts. You need to carefully watch the opening credits; all that bumpf about who produced the film that no one apart from the producer cares about, especially when there are five of the beggars. Now you watch around 10 minutes of the film and nod off. At random intervals, you wake, watch a few more minutes and nod off again.

As you perfect the technique like the pro like me you can watch the opening and closing credits with n’owt in between. This is utopia. I have watched one movie six times. Once for the first 15 minutes then skipped to the closing credits. The second attempt allowed to watch the middle bit, this was topped up by another 30 minutes towards the end, and so on. OK, I was constantly trying to fathom out the plot. This led to all manner of conjecture. Mostly false but after the fifth viewing it finally made sense, just. By now the intended 100 minutes run time had been extended to around 500 minutes. Result.

I have extended the technique to include foreign language films. Normally you need to stay awake if they are subtitled which can be a bind. But I have just ploughed my way through a comedy in French, again. The first viewing taxed the schoolboy french a tad but I followed the plot, I thought. To check I bought another copy this time in English, only it wasn’t. Thank you, Amazon. The second viewing brought more of the plot into focus. But then hitting the wrong button on the remote to eject the thing opened up some HTML code, and you really don’t want to mess with that stuff. But it then said, in French do you want the subtitles En Angleterre, which I found intriguing; why would you ask this question in French? Anyhow a swift click and I watched the blighter for the third time but now with English subs. Result. Three viewing for the price of one and my interpreation of the plot was 85% correct. Result again as I was pretty carp at French at school. Long story.

Films With A Different View

Over the years I have perfected a way to get the maximum benefit from watching videos.

After you wack in the DVD and set it to play it is normal essential you stay awake if you are to watch the films as the director intended. But you can adjust things to suit yourself and in the process see a completely different films from that intended.

I first discovered this technique many years, in fact, many, many years ago whilst an engineer officer cadet at sea. One of the functions performed by cadets was to show the films to fellow crew members on precious ‘films night’. Way before DVD’s was spawned, the films were 16mm acetate monsters clattering from one reel to another through the projection gate. A feature film generally comprised of four reels each held in a circular tin. Apart from reel one which you can preload in readiness subsequent reels had to fed through the projector gate at some speed before the audience became arsey. 20 secs was the allowable maximum before the reel had the shown. It was like being in the army loading a field gun

Back in the day 16mm films had to be shown in a darkened room to be seen and herein lay the problem. Changing a film in the dark – at speed left very little room for error, and your honour, it was all too easy to grab the wrong film tin in the dark. Thus showing a mystery film in the order of reels 1, 3, 2, 4 added an extra and often much appreciated twist to the drama, although clearly it best to never let on.

Moving on few decades I happened to be recently subjected to the Mama Mia 2 (MM2) DVD. To an outsider, that is a person who missed Mama Mia the original, I struggled to get the complex interrelationship of the cast in any focus.

The gist of it is that Cher plays Meryl Streep’s mother although they are the same age. Meryl Streep doesn’t officially appear in MM2 and is played by a younger actress, although right at the end of the film Meryl Streep does appear playing herself- but at an older age than the younger actress. The granddaughter of Meryl Streep has three fathers which imply that Meryl Streep got v. busy in the MM1.

The three Dad actors played themselves both in MM1 and MM2 even though there were further flashbacks showing the dads as being much younger and played by younger actors although the rest of the cast didn’t appear to age forward or backwards as the film zipped back and forwards faster that Dr Who’s Tardis. You are getting the gist of all this?

The outcome, apart from incessant questions to clarify the plot, was quite bewildering. But as per the 16mm film reel mix-ups you are able to re-run the DVD many times to try and wprk the plot out, and thus get extrordinary vlue for mony.

Groundhog Brexit

One of the downsides of a campaign primarily based on assumption is the annoying emergence of facts. These pop up with the primary objective to irritate and annoy.

Most of the U.K. and all of the EU are clearly sick of Brexit. It has ruined many a good lunch in Brussels. If we had behaved and not critised the immense gravy train that is the Brussels, or that 50% of all EU projects have no cear audit trail of expenditure. Or they required two massive locations (Brusels and Strassburg) or the mass exodus of MEP’s every Friday morning after they had claimed their expenses for the day, none of the Brexit thing would have arisen.

Instead, we are witnessing 650 guys in Westminster running around like headless chickens trying to look both important and indignant. Brussels is insistent that we invent the rules of the Brexit game whilst they stand with their arms crossed muttering and rejecting stuff for the hell of it attempt to look important and make the departure damn difficult – in case the other guys are tempted to think about it.

Whilst Brussels have proven without a doubt they are aloof the impasse has revealed Westminster to be equally a bunch of muppets. Their London centric outlook has mirrored all the ills of the EU. The history books will become massive in order to contain all the facts and figures of the Brexit debate. And directors will struggle to portray the key issues in any film under 6 hours.

Tixerb; novel way to start the day

We have adopted a new game in the household. How long after the start of a news bulletin does the newscaster mention the word Brexit. For months now the record held at around 5 seconds. But the other day this record was smashed. The very first word uttered by the poor chap was ‘Brexit’, rather like an involuntary sneeze.

Two years into the game and most are getting a tad tired of the rules, not that we actually know what they are. Luckily nobody else does either, well except from the infamous M. Barnier. He knows the rules backwards, they are written on a piece of paper he holds in his lap, in French. Fat chance we will ever get to see this bit of paper, even if we did we wouldn’t understand what is written. Its in French.

The Brexit game is akin to tit for tat, hide and seek, and British Bulldog all rolled into one. The rules are bent, re-bent and adapted as the game goes along such that at one time no player actually knows the state of play. The end point is to become a ballon debate where the better orator wins and gets to chuck the opponent out of the “balloon”.

In the meantime our troops in Westminster are running around like headless chickens. The only outcome so far is to chuck up a load of dust in a vain attempt to confuse the enemy. Regretfully they forgot the dust will also confuse our own troops.

Some of us wonder over the origins ig the word referendum. Ignoring the dictionary, which says it is a general vote by the electorate on a single political question which has been referred to them for a direct decision. A more accurate definition now being: The outcome when Westminster looses all sense of reason, and ability to control anything then decides to hold a referendum in order to blame the electorate.

Finally, just in case you wondered about the word Tixerb it means Brexit backwards, rather app description of Westminster.

Daily Grind Creates Havoc

A year or two ago I banged on about coffee machines. They still feature in the daily routine, but there are a few side effects.

Starting with the positives, hell this is the New Year and we need to talk things up; the coffee machine is doing its job and the end product is a cup of coffee. The much clanging, grinding, squeezing and throbbing noises that emit during the process are all part of the dream. We are talking of bean to cup thingys here, none of your aluminium capsules costing lots of pennies and filing landfills. Nope, the beans to cup (BTC) boys reduce the choice from the bewildering arrays of coloured capsules with exotic names in Italian to what ever you can find in a bag on the supermarket shelves. OK here’s the first drawback of a BTC. The selection is pretty limited but the advantage is you therefore don’t have to ponder long. Do you want this one or that one, job done and it’s in the basket.

Like all modern pieces of equipment the average BTC machine is equipped with an array of options and twiddly bits you never need or understand. Once you have mastered the basic commands the machine is inevitably left stuck on the same programme. To use the correct vernacular as it is computer driven that should read “program”, but this spelling derivative always irks so we won’t bother.

Now the downside. The average BTC thingy is a tad lumpy and requires at least four reposioning trials beofre a location is reached that is primarily not in the bleeding way yet somethow accessible for all the little maintenance chores. The final destination in our abode lies adjacent to the TV in the kitchen. This meets all the domestic criteria for a blissful realtionship with fellow residents but with a sting. One of the little electric motors that goes whirr at apparently random moments to suit itself is electrically unsuppressed. Actually to be honest this motor drives the bean squeezing process that achieves the ideal compression of the grinds before the hot liquor is pumped through, according to the book of words. This process operates with surprising frequency and sends the TV into spasm. The picture freezes, pixelates or the sound distorts. Drawing attention to its presence in this manner creates unnessary domestic friction. Glowering looks, as headlines or critical parts of a drama are missed in a cocophony of whirs and buzzs.

There is always tea and instant coffee I hear you say, but ever since I descaled the bleeding kettle it boils like the Royal Marine band drums brigade. Thus for 2019 I am rather taken with exploring the delights of orange juice.

Brexit Becomes Hobson Choice

Originating from an ancient Chinese curse; the term ‘May you live in interesting times’ has currently become a mixture of evolution and sod-you attitude all wrapped up in a nice Christmas Brexit package.

Of course we are talking about Brexit, we do nothing else. A mixture of anticipation, fear, dread and elation makes for a weird recipe. The biggest issue for the government is half of the country doesn’t want to jump, half want to change their minds, and half want a best of three. And the remaining half are totally confused, bemused, or scared stiff.

Of course this totals up to more than the whole of the population. We are dealing with statistics here, when have they made any sense. If we knew then what we know now how many would we have voted differently. There’s the rub, we are already mid air in a jump which nobody knows if we are en route to land on a trampoline and bounce back higher into something wonderful or slam into some hard and solid which will hurt like hell.

Just as the EU stick a couple of fingers up to our proposals our two party leaders goad each. A gladiatorial battle that could see them both mortally wounded. And then what? We are still heading in the direction of down, gravity overcoming all other logic. The best outcome from the government would be to issue each of us with a cushion and some velcro. We can attach said cushion to our rear ends in readiness in case there is a bloody great thump. 

And After a Quick Spray…

There are times when dejuvu just doesn’t cut it. If it did it would have prevented the latest adventure when a small project turned into bleeding nightmare. It’s happened before, many times. Why the memory bank failed to flag up a warning in time needs research.

The splash back behind the kitchen hob had been touched up a few years back. The easy way. Grab tin of what they call tile paint whack it onto the tiles and hey presto instant update, almost. Regretfully the subsequent use of hob cleaners, aerosol for the use of, entices a liberal application over any disaster area. This cleans off the clart, grease and bacteria in a trice. It does what it says on the tin. OK the small print T’and C’s says treat in an inconspicuous area first. Who has the time to do that? And if you are the culprit behind mild cooking over exuberance you need to destroy the evidence pronto. 

The tile paint versus death to grease cleaner was an easy away win to the cleaner. I watched the damn paint blister like the whimp it was. Fear not, with five minutes to spare I can quickly scrape the affected area and repaint. The strategy appeared stuffed fun of logic. A quick rub down with sand paper, and the flaw in the plan started to emerge. 

Despite the cleaning from death of grease there was still a residue of the nasty. This clogged the sandpaper. Plan B was needed. Out came the steam cleaner, this beauty has the power to run the Flying Scott at 20 mph. And this was where the tile paint versus steam was an away win to the steam. The damn paint stared to peel off big time way beyond the intended small patches. In matter of two hours the small touch up project has developed into a mass exodus of tile paint taking the project back to its original form.

The question proffered from the background inspection; “Just what the hell are you doing, there is paint scrapping all over the damn floor” ( rough translation ). The cleanup took forever. The paint under the steam blast, I love that machine, had let go of the wall tiles, floated down in tiny pieces, cooled and regained it adhesive properties then glued itself to the worktop and floor. Will this bloody exercise never finish. We flash froward another couple of hours. The worktop is spotless, the floor gleaming, the wall tiles look good as new although of a dated design, which may come back into fashion, we just need to wait. There is a moral. Read the T’s and C’s on the tin. But a silver lining. I have been banned from using the hob to prevent a repeat incident. This is a result albeit in a excruciating scenario and takes some commitment; best avoided. Which means reading the cooking instructions properly. Will this never end!

Tinsel and Tat

The focus on recycling has allowed we Scrooge’s to take the moral high ground in recycling.

In addition to the need to reduce the use of plastics, glitter is a distinct no-no for the recycling guys. So are ribbons, foil coverd wrapping paper, fancy self adhesive bows and battery driven musical Christmas cards. These all cost lots and appear on the shopping list just at the wrong time of the financial year. Wheras it is judicious to buy Aunty Mabel a pressy and maintain your potential position in her will there is something quite wrong in forking out for fancy wrapping.

Firstly only three percent of the population have any realistic chance to make a half decent job of wrapping the parcel without bumps, lumps and giving the appearance of pre used scrunched paper. The damn bows always manage to be stuck in a less than ideal location, and now you forgot to stick the bow on top of the gift card so need an additional stretch of sellotape.

Then you can relax safe in the knowledge that Aunty Mabel, whom we love dearly (see will issue) will rip the wrapping off in under two seconds, scrunching it up and chucking it aside in a heap whilst the gift is rapidly analysed for shape, colour, smell, being age appropriate and befitting her status. 

These are the more important elements of the assessment of your worthiness to be in the will rather than the wrapping. 

Thus all the effort spent buying wrapping paper and wrapping presents vapourises in a flash. Your job is to wander about collecting the residue and sorting it into its recycling potential, having first checked and rechecked there was no key components, small gift or voucher left in the paper. Then you can relax having stuffed the waste in the appropriate bin before sitting in wonderment that the functional lifespan of the wrapping is measured in nano seconds.

But salavation appears to be imminent. The recycling guys are making their mark. Unprinted cardboard and brown paper are the be easiest to be recycled. Apart from the energy consumed during the process presents wrapped in second hand brown paper and tied up with edible string is the route ahead, hang on there is song about this! And we would save a fortune, bah humbug.

Tick Tock of Brexit Clock

As we wait with bated breath the guys in Westminster behave in a manner that would scare the bejabbers from all except Gengis Khan.

For some strange reason the political bods in Westminster and Brussels believe the average man in the street fully comprehends the words of wisdom set out in a 850 page document none of us has seen. 

We rely on a bunch of chaps who are either for or against Brexit. This being slightly confused by constituents who may have voted with an opposite majority. And then again by party leaders who also find themselves supporting the opposite policy to that which they voted for. In out in out and shake it all about.

If we check out the negotiating team in Brussels their job was to listen then say no which is far better than saying yes or suggesting alternatives. But this is no shock. The whole Brexit thing arose because the EU have been doing their own thing for years and invoicing the U.K. accordingly. 

Nature Makes Worthy Sculpture

Sometimes something happens out of anyone’s control that has magical effect. The picture shows the inadvertent sculpture created by the River Calder flotsam outsider the Hepworth Museum and Art Gallery in Wakefield.

The recent rain has shifted quite a load of floating rubbish downriver. Just outside the Hepworth Art Gallery this lump of tree is stuck on the weir adopting a stately  pose for visitors that maybe Al Wei Wei would be proud of.

 

 

A Little Night News

Coca Cola has woken up and smelt the coffee.

Another British institution goes West. Costa joins a growing list of British companies that have sold their souls to American companies. Apart from the influx of cash into the sellers and share holders coffers there is a downside. If your income were to be swollen by £3.6bn was this an altruistic move or are we to hear of a CEO falling over with the weight of the bonus in their back packet? And as the saying goes, ‘ you can only sell the family silver once……’

I can’t recall a huge benefit ever emerging to the consumer from such a sale. Is Costa suddenly going to change, if so how? Coca Cola will want to see their purchase generate a reasonably quick return on the investment. A concern is the deal could emulate another Cadbury’s from a sale to a company in the USA. Chocolate bars shrink in size along with the percentage of chocolate per  bar. Will Costa Cola be tempted to now keep a few coffee beans back from the grind.

Dancing ‘Queen’

Seems after we are  being led a merry dance by the Brexit team, Teresa May wants to dance the night away at every opportunity during her trip to Africa.

Forget Fracking Drilling Glass Is Much More Traumatic

In the quest to enhance the appearance of the house I hold with the great belief that candles have a significant role to play.

To me it’s complete  natuaral to acquire two fancy glass candlesticks. Not that large mind you but these two beauties were fitted with a hollow stem filled with decorative small glass beads.

Designed to enhance the appearance it was my believe they would look better withought the beads. No matter said I, privately, with my nice new and rather expensive ceramic drill I should be able to drill a hole through the top of the candlestick into the stem and tip out the glass beads.  The intended outcome was that the candlestick would then have a slender glass tube supporting it. This is where assumption overtook reality – as is often the case with my projects.

The thickness of the glass was grossly underestimated. Due to an optical illusion what I thought was to be a 3 mm thick  piece of grass turned out to be 14 mm. Once the drilling commenced we were committed.

Ignoring the fact the drill scooted slightly off centre progress was disturbingly slow.  The drill bit also started to get bleeding hot and on several occasions I had to stop to let things cool down concerned that the grass might crack. An hour and a half later the drill bit was actually sparking and a reddish light seen in the depths of the whole, finally broke through into the glass beads.

At this point I at least had the presence of mind to tip the glass beads into a small plastic container, just in case the mission was to be abandoned. I duly positioned and the empty glass tube, which I thought was rather fetching on the dining room table and sumoned the higher authority to review the outcome. Long story short it was ceremoniously rejected, saying “you’ve got far too much time on your hands, that looks bloody awful and you spent how long drilling that bleeding hole?”

Reversing the processwas slightly demoralising but in the spirit of maintaining harmony I poured all the glass beads back into the tube. This is where I discovered They had become mixed with the powdered glass, (grey) and 3 million particles of disintegrated drillbit, (black). It looked awful and now Way would it pass the quality control check that hovered.

The remedy appeared simple; just give the  beads  a quick wash and separate beads from the offending matter using the kitchen sieve. Regrettably I was spotted. My explanation I was merely trying to remove powered glass and distingrated drill bit from the beads Was met with an icy stare. “Stop me when you spot the flaw” came the reply; Kitchen sieve, cooking, eating, powered glass shattered drill bit, yummy”. Moron.

Having so far wasted one and half drilling the hole, a drill bit I spent another hour rinsing powered glass using paper kitchen towel as filter paper and picking tiny, tiny drill bits with tweezers. Glass beads were finally reunited with candle stick and all is well. And life can rebegin.

 

 

Statue of Liberty Inscription to Change

The following is the inscription on the Statue of Liberty that stands proud and welcoming on Staten Island at the entrance to New York harbour and the United States of America.

Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

In the spirit of making the USA great again a certain someone has changed the inscription to read:-

“Mexico is trying, they are trying but we’re different, we have our military on the border,” he said. “And I noticed all that beautiful barbed wire going up today. Barbed wire, used properly, can be a beautiful sight.”

Emaculate Macron Takes a Swipe At the UK

One of the many factors that drove the majority of UK voters to chuck the EU into the skip was the amazingly arrogant and insular behaviour of the european bureaucrats. Followed closely by our London centric parliament.

It all seems to be getting nasty, with the opposing sides staring at each other in the menacing way of boxers at the weigh in. The recent Salzburg summit gathering of the 27 great and good, are by their behaviour gooding us into a retaliatory move, a severe case of sod you Europe. A least now we can have the whole of parliament joining the common goal of a no deal Brexit, with all the okpoutuities that this could present.

The “staged’ photo shots of the 27 suits with their backs to the camera, leaving only Teressa  facing the front, couldn’t be more prosaic. The second biggest contributor to the EU coffers is thanked for all the cash in the past but now sod off, again.

If ever a single leader chose the moment to poke us in the eye, and thereby spurred us on to the next move it is wee Emaculate Macron. Who, just before leaving for his next lesson in diplomacy, and currently speaking for himself  said our parliament told us all lies about Brexit. This we have know for centuries, it goes with the job, but it is a poor show the Emaculate one could not think of  solution to the debate, and opted to whinge from the sidelines with his back to the audience.

Gravity Defends Blackberries

Currently I have been involved in a number of incidents involving the application of gravity. Why should Newton have all the glory.

My first experiment required me to fall from the vertical onto my hands, clench a glass of wine in my teeth and drink from the prone position. It formed part of a challenge laid down by some mad arsed Greek dancer whilst I was slightly merry at a hotel in Crete. British honour was at stake, I will say no more – except British honour was maintained.

The second encounter with earths magical powers involved blackberries. It’s that time of year, and armed with a suitable punnet I was led to an accessible crop down a lane. This year, understandably the fruit was scarce. The dry summer meant the berries were much smaller. To fill my half of the collection bargain was quickly assessssed as being quite a mission. Unless of course I reached across this gulley and thrust forward further deeper into the undergrowth. Never mind the scratches honour was at stake again and Clearly I needed to Befirst to fill the wretched punnet.

Things were progressing to plan when I felt the need to relocate to seek further pickings. This was when the foot got trapped by a blackberry sucker unseen at ground level which wrapped itself round my ankle. Forward motion was abruptly cancelled and I found myself progressing in the direction of down at some speed.  I appreciated the power of gravity once more as we grew closer to Mother Earth, back first. This allowed me to marvel at the blue sky above, glimpsing the sun and tops of trees as we journied down. I also noticed Newton’s second law in action. That’s the blighter which states that to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The sudden onset of my downward excursion caused, admittedly a half baked attempt to or reacitfy things. The arms flew upwards as the body went downwards. This caused the crop of blackberries to depart upwards from the punnet, and as their trajectory decayed they too joined my progress downwards.

I landed in the ditch, thankful the thing was dry, to be followed by a shower of blackberries which bounced off me en-route to the deeper undergrowth. The crop was lost. The air was blue, the sky was blue my demeanour was blue, not helped by the timely advice of “do watch out” you could hurt yourself”. My arse.